On March 28th, COFCO Corporation’s first shipment of 2,200 tons of wheat, which was picked up by China-Europe return freight train in Kostanay Province of Kazakhstan and loaded in bulk containers, arrived at Xi’an International Logistics Park.
During his state visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a proposal in his speech to build the “Silk Road Economic Belt”, thus unveiling the grand strategy of the “Belt and Road”. At present, China has become the largest trading partner of Kazakhstan. The wheat trade between the two countries plays a dominant role in their agro-products trade, which has been an integral part of bilateral trade relations. Recent years have witnessed a rapid increase of wheat trade scale between two countries thanks to joint efforts made by COFCO Corporation and relevant enterprises in Kazakhstan.
As the first stop along the “Silk Road Economic Belt”, Kazakhstan, whose export of agro-products occupies an important place in its economic development, boasts abundant agricultural resources and enormous growth potential. The wheat trade between China and Kazakhstan not only plays an important role in boosting the steady growth of Kazakh agricultural economy as well as the development of China’s grain processing industry but also serves as a beneficial complement for consolidating China’s grain and food security. The import of green and safe Kazakh wheat has provided an extra option to China’s diversified channels of importing wheat, not only contributing to the enhancement of product quality and competitiveness of wheat flour processing industry in China’s Northwestern regions but also enriching the supply of high-quality wheat of different varieties in Chinese market.
According to Ma Lijun, general manager of Wheat Department of COFCO Trading, this shipment of Kazakh wheat has been the latest achievement made by COFCO Corporation since it started to set up grain procurement and storage facilities in countries along the “Belt and Road”. It is the first time for bulk containers to be used for transporting Kazakh wheat, which was directly supplied by Nidera (Kazakhstan) under COFCO Corporation from its self-owned warehouse, to an inland port, which has improved the transportation efficiency of imported Kazakh wheat. As the pioneer, leader and major channel of wheat trade between China and Kazakhstan, COFCO Corporation continues to improve the efficiency of importing Kazakh wheat, strives to exercise rigorous control of quality on imported wheat, and constantly expands the sales regions so as to lay a solid foundation for the sustained rapid growth of Kazakh wheat import business.
In recent years, COFCO Corporation has conducted agro-products trade with 54 countries along the “Belt and Road” and maintained a relatively fast growth momentum. After acquiring strategic resources such as warehousing, port and logistics facilities in regions along the “Belt and Road”, it has become the largest grain exporter in Romania and one of the top grain exporters in Ukraine, and owned the most advanced agro-products entrepot facilities in Ukraine’s DSSC grain port. Meanwhile, COFCO Corporation also provides engineering design, financial and insurance services to many countries along the “Belt and Road”.
During the “13th Five-Year” period, COFCO Corporation will continue to increase its investment and construction in countries along the “Belt and Road”. With planned increase of investment by CNY 10 billion, it aims to raise the agro-products trade volume along the “Belt and Road” beyond 30 million tons annually by 2020, have access to first-hand grain source of 10 million tons per year, and conduct CNY 5 billion-worth food import/export business. It plans to build two major grain logistics routes (land-based and maritime), improve its presence in terms of overseas grain storage logistics and agro-products processing facilities, strengthen comprehensive exchange within the region, construct an international grain logistics corridor connecting Central Asia and even Europe with inland China, and gain further control of first-hand grain source so as to develop into an international grain trader, shoulder its responsibility with considerable volume, balance market supply and demand, and meet consumers’ differentiated needs.
Countries along the “Belt and Road” occupy an important place in the world’s grain production. The Far East and the Black Sea represented by Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Romania are the world’s emerging grain production regions with huge grain production potential; the Central Asia represented by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is a traditional agro-products export region; the Southeast Asia represented by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia is not only an important grain consumption market in the world but also a major G&O export region for its abundant resources of agro-products including cash crops such as rubber, palm oil and coffee besides grains.